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Kay/NC
Advisor

New American Dream?

 I posted this earlier today on the women's board, and am startgin to get a littel feedback there.  I wanted to drop it here, for a different perspective.  Things may look brighter on the farm front right noiw, but another rant here a day or two ago sort of stimulated this post, along with the TV appearance this morning that it refers to:

Of all the financial advisors on TV, my favorite has been Suze Orman for a few years now.  I have especially respected her focus on women and money, and her philosophy of of "people first, then money, then things."  I record her show every Saturday and watch it usually on Sunday while catching the alarm test calls while Mike is doing his weekend chores on the farm. 

 

Suze has been talking for quite a while about how people need to have a "new American dream.":  She showed up on "Morning Joe" this morning, promoting her latest book on this subject: The Money Class.  It's basically a set of nine lessons on managing momey for families in our new economic condition. 

 

She says that the middle class has basically dissolved...that people need to learn to have new goals, and live by new values.  The discussion this morning on the show dealt a lot with how parents for the first time feel that their kids will not inherit greater opportunity in our country.  This makes me truly sad...but I think it is true. 

 

I will probably pick this title up with some of my remaining gift card credits this weekend.  I think I need to absorb this possibility - which has been my general feeling of things for a while now - and think of how I will alter my own management, as well as my advice when the kids ask for it going forward. 

 

The old rules seem to have been set on their ear.  I may need to form a new philosophy, or, at least in some respects, significantly alter the old one.  This is not because of one TV advisor's position, but I think her new position is merely reflecting what I've felt for a while now...it is like verification of my own observations.  Suze is just one in a fairly long line of financial advisors I've heard in the past few months who are saying it is a new game from here on.  

 

Have any of you thought about this weather change in the American Dream?  Do you think it is real of not?  Do you have a different dream than you had just a few years ago, or is everything pretty much on track for your vision of the future as it has always been? 

 

Do you think our children will have it better or worse, at least financially speaking, and would a less-stellar financial picture mean we will replace those concerns with other, more spiritual and social ones? 

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35 Replies
Red Steele
Veteran Advisor

Re: New American Dream?

I wouldn't put a lot of stock into what Suzie Orman says about worrying about your children nor finances. She is a lesbian that keeps her own money in tax free municipal bonds, so she shares neither generational concerns nor market risks.

 

Just like a Rush Limbaugh, figure her as one more entertainer. If an hour listening to her entertains you, so be it, but I think you can find other sources of worthwhile knowledge.

 

When the hour is over, both laugh all the way to the bank.

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Kay/NC
Advisor

Re: New American Dream?

A person's sexual orientation is the last thing I would be concerned  about in listening to their financial advice.  I have always felt that Suze has kept families at the forefront of her concerns at all times, and especially now in tough times. 

Now that you have finished with the messenger, and we can agree to diagree...how about addressing the message?  Is it time for us to adjust our expectations as Americans?  If so, how? 

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fernwood
Frequent Contributor

Re: New American Dream?

As an aside, one thing I learned many years ago is that I can learn something from anyone.  It is just a matter of listening objectively, sorting through what they said and keeping anything of value.  Focus on to me in everyday life.      

 

Now, regarding the matter of the middle class becoming a relic of the past.  I have said many, many times in the last few years.  When manufacturing jobs started leaving our country the meltdown of the middle class began.  Manufacturing jobs with good pay and benefits have enabled many to live the American Dream.  When I retired several years ago most hourly workers were making $20+ per hour and had a good benefit package.  Most jobs had some overtime built in so it was common for workers to make over $50K per year.  By the way, that company is still in business and is still prospering.  In fact, they opened up a new manufacturing plant recently which will employ over 1000 people. 

 

Sad to say that is the exception rather than the rule. Most industry is stagnant, at best.  When I was young, which was many years ago, jobs in manufacturing were plentiful for people with a high school education and a good work ethic.  That provided a good home, vehicle, lifestyle and enabled children to go to college.  For those so inclined, a person could purchase a good sized farm, work hard and pay for it using the income from the public job and the farm.  This enabled many to build a good sized nest egg for retirement.  In today world it is virtually impossible to do that.  I do not remember seeing anyone young, whose income was from a public job,  purchase a good sized farm and start farming without outside help.  Land is too high and the cost of living a lifestyle that most want today makes it cost prohibitive.  

 

I see nothing on the horizon to change this.  Even a college education in todays environment does not guarantee a good paying job as it did when I was young.  I see the gap between the have's and have not's getting wider and wider. 

 

The farm sector (especially grain farming) has made a dramatic change the last few years.   There are many, many multimillionaires in our country today who are farmers.  That has made it virtually impossible for anyone not born into farming to enter the profession.  When I was a child, the perception of most farmers was that they were good, hard working people who survived on a meager income.  Most farmers today are at the least, middle class.  

 

At least, that is the way I see things from my back door.                        

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k-289
Senior Advisor

Re: New American Dream?

Since NAFTA has been promoted to indulge wall street instead of main street along with the unquenchable thirst for GREED of assets--most of the laboring class has been on a continued decline which has exhausted the spending power of the middle class---along with the" lobbyist" "having thier way" with local--state--federal policy making--we have arrived into 2011---Kay did you pick up on Suzie recomending doing a short sale and renting a property---not sure I would recomend that unless one was under water at least 50%---how would the rent get paid if wages are stagnent along with increasing costs of living---guess you just keep moving ?  Seems as though the military option for collage is being shoved at more of our youth--pretty sad to say---  

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Kay/NC
Advisor

Re: New American Dream?

You know, there is probably more to the suppression of the working class, as a means of re-stocking the military with fresh recruits, that we would like to think.  It has long been a way of getting up and out of poverty for lower-income kids; but, I'm sure they've been about tapped out with two wars at once, and at least one more looming. 

Stop Loss can only hold them so long...and the contractors need a fresh stream of troops to headhunt away for their ops, trained at public expense.  That pipeline has to be fairly long with a service commitment of 3-4 years to offset the college degree most want to earm. 

Reminds me of the feed rep who told us how to handle some aggressive roosters once..."Get a bucket of water, grab them by the neck, and hold them under until you feel them ALMOST give up living.  When you let them loose, they will be much easier to deal with after that." 

I guess the worse our warfare prospects, the longer our youth will have to be held underwater in terms of not much oppirtunity, in order to drive them towards military enlistment.  Hadn't thought of it that way, but now that I do, it really makes some sense, don't you think?   

Did not listen to teh strategy you spoke of, but I got distracted partway through that segmemt...and they spent a large part of it reacting to Newt's explanation his infidelities due to the presssures of serving his country in Congress.  That was a novel excuse if I've ever heard one....

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wt510151
Senior Contributor

Re: New American Dream?

Does that mean Newt will have more marriages if he gets that stressful job of President. Did he find the light so he can have a stronger moral compass now? There are just too many politicians tainted that people lose trust in this country righting itsself any time soon. The current system isn't working, yet too many are scared to get out of the rut before the next car comes. Which would you believe in more, a liar, or a thief? That seems to be the only choices for political office these days.

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smokeyjay
Advisor

Re: New American Dream?

Kay, the middle class has struggled for many years to remain above water.  I would agree with Suzie's thoughts on that.  When more than 90% of the nation's wealth is owned by less than 10% of the population, it's a strangle hold that one cannot easily escape, if at all.  However, this statistic was not much better during the Reagan years, the one we credit for helping create the greatest economic boom in american history.

 

Her statement about "people first" reflects reality that relationships will be more important to one's financial and social survival than ever before.  Arrogant self reliance is not a good strategy anymore.   

 

 

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nwobcw
Advisor

Re: New American Dream?

   I pretty much agree with fernwood.

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: New American Dream?

When I taugth school, I used to say that my students taught me something new everyday.  Best one I think was once when I said to a kid wanting me to give him credit for being "close" on a math problem, "Close only counts in horseshoes." 

That was the saying as I'd heard it all my life.  He looked at me and grinned, and then said, "No, Ma'am, close counts in horseshoes and hand grenades."   We laughed and then agreed that math was neither one...but I did learn something from that child that day that I've never forgotten. 

I heard a statistic  - probably on Morning Joe last week - that the Chinese are openign a new college every 18 HOURS!  Check that one out before you quote it anywhere; but, the implications are clear: When 1.3 billion people are educating themselves at that rate, and throw in the Indian subcontinent with similar educational efforts already further along the path - we will have ot find some other way to differentiate ourselves globally. 

For now, it appears to be throwing more money into defense than all of the rest of the world combined. 

Japanese worst-recorded ever earthquake treported to be hreatening some of their nuclear power plants this morning, tsunami headed for Hawaii and the West Coast.  World markets sliding fast due to this development.  Happy Friday!

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